Significant electricity transmission upgrades – what you need to know

Author: Sarah Bennett, D&R Associate, Castle Douglas

Electricity networks across the country are undergoing a significant upgrade to ensure the grid can deal with the additional electricity being generated as part of the drive towards Net Zero.

Construction of new pylon lines

Electricity companies on both sides of the border have major construction works planned to install new pylon lines and upgrade existing lines. In Scotland, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has recently carried out public consultation with the view to identifying a suitable route for the construction of a new 400kV line between Beauly and Peterhead. Meanwhile there are also plans afoot for a similar new line further north between Beauly and Spittal.

Similarly, a public consultation is ongoing concerning the new East Coast 400kv line from Kintore South to Tealing and the upgrade to the existing line from Tealing to Glenrothes, together with the proposed new substation sites at Fiddes and Tealing. This consultation was recently extended and will close on 28th July, and we are already supporting clients potentially affected by this project.

Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) are also planning to construct new infrastructure in the south of Scotland. We have had significant involvement in the Kendoon to Tongland (KTR) project in Dumfries & Galloway, where many of the proposed pylons are located within farmland currently unaffected by such infrastructure.

In England, Electricity North West Limited (ENWL) and National Grid continue to develop their plans to upgrade their networks, partly through the construction of new pylon lines. D&R is aware of large-scale upgrading works around the Carlisle area and we understand that there will be projects happening from here down to the north of Manchester over the coming years.

Whilst the electricity companies do have statutory powers allowing them to construct new transmission lines, in many situations there is often much that can be negotiated, sometimes in terms of routing of the line/siting of pylons, but certainly on compensation packages and mitigation measures. The best opportunity for landowners and tenants to negotiate better terms on these matters is at the outset of the project, before signing any wayleave paperwork.

Renewal of existing pylon lines

Much work is also planned, or ongoing, to refurbish existing transmission lines right across the country. We are currently working with clients affected by SPEN line renewals in Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, the Borders, and the Central Belt. We are working on behalf of landowners and tenants for SSEN projects across Argyll & Bute, and islands such as Orkney and the Isle of Skye. South of the border, we are acting for farmers and landowners affected by ENWL and National Grid projects across Cumbria.

Electricity companies will have the right to take access to their existing infrastructure for such maintenance purposes, but again there is much to be agreed in advance of permitting entry. Temporary roads are often required, and fencing needed to ensure lands remain stockproof and manageable from a practical farming point of view. Contractors may also seek areas of land to use as compounds and a weekly rental should be agreed in advance of them taking access. Once the works are completed, the electricity company are duty bound to reinstate the land back to its’ previous state, to the landowner/tenant’s satisfaction. It can sometimes take several years for land to get back to full production and, up until that point, compensation can be claimed to ensure that farmers are not left any worse off as a result of the works.

The legislation surrounding works to the electricity networks allows landowners and tenants to instruct a land agent at the cost of the statutory undertaker. Do contact your local agent if you may be affected by any work on electricity lines now, or in the future.

For more information contact your local D&R team or Sarah Bennett on 01556 502 270 or


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